space law

The lawfulness of drones in France

Let’s study the lawfulness of drones in France. The use of civilian drones in France is governed by two recent regulations that came into force on January 1, 2016. These regulations separate civilian drone use into three categories: hobby and competition flying, flying for experimental and testing purposes, and “particular activities”, which essentially means everything else, including commercial use of drones.

Drones of all categories are subject to strict geographic restrictions, the main purpose of which is to protect people, property, and other aircraft. Concerning the lawfulness of drones in France, drones may not be flown over public areas of urban zones without governmental approval, and may be flown over private property only with the owner’s authorisation. Drones are required to fly under certain altitudes, and these altitude limits are substantially lower in the vicinity of airfields. Absent special authorisation, drones are entirely forbidden in certain zones, such as military installations and other sensitive sites, but also historical monuments and certain national parks and natural reserves. Violation of prohibited airspace is punishable by jail time and heavy fines.

Drones flown for hobby and competition purposes are subject to certain weight and performance limits. Lighter and less powerful hobby drones may be flown by anyone, but heavier and/or more powerful ones may be flown only under authorisation of the ministry in charge of civil aviation. Drones flown for experimental or testing purposes also require government authorisation if they weigh more than twenty-five kilograms.

Drones flown for “particular activities” which include commercial purposes, are regulated on the basis of four different types of scenarios. Different rules apply depending on which type of scenario the drone is to be used for, though many rules apply to all four scenarios. Many drones used for “particular activities” require a certification of design in order to receive authorisation to fly, and all must comply with defined safety requirements. Furthermore, the operation of a drone for “particular activities” requires that the operator declare these activities to the government authorities, and certain activities require express approval. Pilots of drones for “particular activities” must have a level of knowledge and training that depends on the type of scenario for which the drone is to be used, with some situations requiring a full pilot’s license.

The definition of a drone

An unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) (or uncrewed aerial vehicle), commonly known as a drone, is an aircraft without a human pilot on board. UAVs are a component of an unmanned aircraft system (UAS); which include a UAV, a ground-based controller, and a system of communications between the two. The flight of UAVs may operate with various degrees of autonomy: either under remote control by a human operator or autonomously by onboard computers.

A UAV is defined as a “powered, aerial vehicle that does not carry a human operator, uses aerodynamic forces to provide vehicle lift, can fly autonomously or be piloted remotely, can be expendable or recoverable, and can carry a lethal or nonlethal payload”. Therefore, missiles are not considered UAVs because the vehicle itself is a weapon that is not reused, though it is also uncrewed and in some cases remotely guided.

The term “drone”, more widely used by the public, was coined in reference to the early remotely-flown target aircraft used for practice firing of a battleship’s guns, and the term was first used with the 1920s Fairey Queen and 1930’s de Havilland Queen Bee target aircraft. These two were followed in service by the similarly-named Airspeed Queen Wasp and Miles Queen Martinet, before ultimate replacement by the GAF Jindivik. The term unmanned aircraft system (UAS) was adopted by the United States Department of Defense (DoD) and the United States Federal Aviation Administration in 2005. The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the British Civil Aviation Authority adopted this term, also used in the European Union’s Single-European-Sky (SES) Air-Traffic-Management (ATM) Research (SESAR Joint Undertaking) roadmap for 2020.

Compared to crewed aircraft, UAVs were originally used for missions too “dull, dirty or dangerous” for humans. While they originated mostly in military applications, their use is rapidly expanding to commercial, scientific, recreational, agricultural, and other applications, such as policing, peacekeeping, and surveillance, product deliveries, aerial photography, smuggling, and drone racing. Civilian UAVs now vastly outnumber military UAVs.

The French Civil Aviation Authority

The DGAC, the French Civil Aviation Authority, is responsible for ensuring the safety and the security of French air transport, as well as maintaining a balance between the development of the air transport sector and environmental protection. It is the national regulatory authority, but it also provides safety oversight, air navigation services and training. It is a partner of key players in the aeronautical industry and it is also in charge of financial aid for research in aircraft construction and state industrial policy in this sector. The DGAC is responsible for the lawfulness of drones in France.

The missions of the DGAC are the following: 1. Maintaining high safety and security standards in the air transport sector is one of the DGAC’s constant concerns. It is responsible for the oversight of industrial stakeholders, operators and flight crew. 2. DGAC takes action to reduce the pollution generated by air transport, especially noise and air pollution. It maintains dialogue with local elected officials and the representatives of residents who live close to airports. 3. DGAC provides services for airlines and general aviation. It provides air traffic services, through its control centres and air traffic control towers. 4. DGAC plays an active role in economic and social affairs. It acts as France’s air transport regulator. It is the key representative of airlines, airports and their customers. As a partner of industrial manufacturers and operators, DGAC contributes to activity in the aeronautical industry. It implements a policy designed to support this key sector of the French economy thanks to research subsidies and refundable advance payments. 5. The civil aviation environment is highly international and European. The DGAC is involved in defining and defending France’s position before the relevant international bodies. It promotes French companies savoir-faire abroad. It also leads actions of cooperation on demand of foreign countries willing to benefit from French experience.

The lawfulness of drones in France

The use of civilian drones in France is principally governed by two recent regulations: the Arrêté du 17 décembre 2015 relatif à l’utilisation de l’espace aérien par les aéronefs qui circulent sans personne à bord (Order of December 17, 2015, Regarding the Use of Airspace by Unmanned Aircraft) (Airspace Order), and the Arrêté du 17 décembre 2015 relatif à la conception des aéronefs civils qui circulent sans personne à bord, aux conditions de leur emploi et aux capacités requises des personnes qui les utilisent (Order of December 17, 2015, Regarding the Creation of Unmanned Civil Aircraft, the Conditions of Their Use, and the Required Aptitudes of the Persons That Use Them) (Creation and Use Order). These two orders replace regulations from 2012 that were considered obsolete and inadequate. Both of these orders came into force on January 1, 2016.

The current regulations apply to “aircraft that move without any person on board”. The order regarding the use of airspace does not apply to tethered balloons, kites, or military drones. The other order, which aims to regulate the creation of drones, their conditions of use, and the requirements for operators to receive authorisation to fly them, does not apply to free-flying balloons, tethered balloons that stay below an altitude of fifty meters and have a payload of no more than one kilogram, rockets, kites, and aircraft used in enclosed and covered spaces.

The use of civilian drones in France is governed by two recent regulations that came into force on January 1, 2016. These regulations separate civilian drone use into three categories: hobby and competition flying, flying for experimental and testing purposes, and “particular activities”, which essentially means everything else, including commercial use of drones. According to France’s national aviation authority, the French Civil Aviation Authority, flying a drone is legal in France, but it is recommended to be aware of and compliant with the drone regulations.

Based on our research and interpretation of the laws, here are the most important rules to know for flying a drone in France. All drones of eight hundred grams or more must be registered by their owner on AlphaTango, the public portal for users of remotely piloted aircraft. The drone then receives a registration number that must be affixed permanently, visibly, on the drone and must allow reading at a distance of thirty centimetres, with the naked eye.  The drone pilot must be able to provide proof of registration in the event of a check.

Drone pilots must maintain a line of sight with their drones at all times. If a visual observer is tracking the drone, the pilot may fly out of his or her own range of sight. Drones may not be flown at night (unless with special authorisation from the local prefect). Drones may not be flown over people; over airports or airfields; over private property (unless with owner’s authorisation); over military installations, prisons, nuclear power plants, historical monuments, or national parks. Use this map to locate flight restrictions by geolocation. Drones may also not be flown over ongoing fires, accident zones, or around emergency services. Drones may not be flown above one hundred and fifty meter, or higher than fifty meters above any object or building that is one hundred meters or more in height.

Here are the additional requirements, concerning the lawfulness of drones in France, to fly a drone commercially in France: drone pilots who fly for purposes other than leisure (commercial drone pilots) must pass a theoretical exam. The exam can be taken online or at specified DSAC facilities. Procedures for taking this exam are described on this page. Upon passing the exam, the pilot will receive a theoretical “télépilote” certificate. The pilot must have this printed and with them during all flights.

Commercial drone pilots must also undergo basic practical training. The operator must define and provide the necessary additional training, taking into account the types of aircraft they use and the specific activities they perform. At the end of the training, the training organisations will provide the télépilots with a training follow-up certificate for the corresponding scenarios. A drone pilot cannot provide his own practical training.

Here are the additional requirements to fly a drone for recreation in France: drone pilots who fly for leisure or recreation only do not need a training certificate when their drone’s mass is less than eight hundred grams. Drone pilots operating a remotely piloted aircraft of eight hundred grams or more for recreational purposes must undergo training. This training can be: (1) the Fox AlphaTango training offered by the DGAC or (2) training provided by the FFAM or UFOLEP recognised as equivalent by the DGAC. That is what we can say about the lawfulness of drones in France.

Audouin Dollfus, the French aeronaut

Canadian astrophysicist Hubert Reeves considers Audouin Dollfus to be one of the greatest French contemporary astronomers. In particular, he discovered Saturn’s satellite Janus, determined the composition of Mars’ soil, detected an atmospheric residue on Mercury, and selected the Apollo XI mission landing site, which allowed Neil Armstrong to set the first human foot on the Moon. He was also a high-flying aeronaut since he still holds the world record for the highest manned flight with a balloon equipped with an astronomical telescope.

Audouin Dollfus was born in 1924 to an Alsatian family, six of whom were mayors of Mulhouse. He is the son of Charles Dollfus, aeronaut and historian of aeronautics, founder and first curator (1927-1958) of the Aeronautical Museum of Meudon, which later became the Museum of Air and Space at Le Bourget. Audouin Dollfus confided to Jean Tensi in an interview in 2010, four and a half months before his death: “My father was an exceptional man, a man of great culture”. Charles Dollfus was a great-grandson of Marie Mieg and Daniel Dollfus, who presided over the creation of the textile firm Dollfus-Mieg Compagnie, well known to seamstresses under the legendary brand DMC.

Audouin Dollfus owes his passion for aerostation to his father. At the age of eight, he made his first balloon climb in Meudon and became a pilot as soon as he was old enough, just after the Second World War. His fascination with astronomy came to him at the same age. He spends his holidays in the house of his grandparents in Lyons-la-Forêt: “I lived in this family and family atmosphere very cultural. There were libraries of extraordinary richness, very eclectic. One day, at the age of eight, a little by chance, I pulled from the library of my grandparents a book that attracted me because it was well decorated and was called “The Sky”, by Amédée Guillemin. I was stunned. I could not read it. There were illustrations, inserts in colour”. It will be the beginning of a passion that will not leave him. “At fourteen, I had my first telescope (astronomical). I found it there too, in the old drawers of my grandparents’ country estate, rummaging. There was everything, it is the illustration of culture as it used to be”.

At the end of his studies at the Faculty of Sciences of the University of Paris, Audouin Dollfus entered the Observatory of Paris-Meudon in 1946, then headed by the great astronomer Bernard Lyot. On May 30, 1954 he flew in a balloon from Villacoublay with his father, carrying a telescope in the basket and rising to an altitude of seven thousand meters. He thus achieves the first astronomical observation from a balloon, but failed to detect the presence of water on Mars. For best results, he should reach the stratosphere, doubling the flight altitude and culminating at fourteen thousand metres. Professor Auguste Piccard and his teammate, Paul Kipfer, were the first, in 1931, to have entered the stratosphere, reaching an altitude of almost sixteen thousand metres, but it was more a sporting achievement than a scientific achievement.

In 1957, Audouin Dollfus, inspired by Piccard’s flight, designed an aerostatic device intended to carry a telescope in the air with an experimenter on board: the stratoscope. The survival capsule consists of a sphere of less than one point eight meters in diameter of aluminium one point two millimetres thick, covered with twenty millimetres of polystyrene. Professor Louis Leprince-Ringuet gave his support for this achievement. The structure carrying the telescope was made of duralumin tubes, for which Professor Auguste Piccard helped. A Cassegrain telescope of five hundred millimetres diameter was fixed above the capsule. The total mass of the cabin was thus one hundred and five kilograms.

As propellant, Audouin Dollfus chose to use multiple small hydrogen-filled polyurethane balloons, each offering a vertical pull of ten kilograms. The expansion tests of the envelopes were carried out in the Hangar Y of Meudon. To achieve the ascent, one hundred and five small balloons were assembled in groups of three, constituting a huge cluster, which deployed five hundred meters in height along a central cable, with powder charges designed to gradually pop the balloons to slow down the climb, to stabilise the craft at the height chosen for the experiment, and finally to make a careful descent. An ingenious process, but oh so dangerous for the aeronaut.

Then the big day came, on April 22, 1959; Denis Rakotoarijimy, then a young researcher at the Observatory of Meudon, recalls: “In Villacoublay, we then inflated successively the one hundred and four balloons of the cluster intended to train the nacelle in the airs. The basket where Dollfus would stay for the duration of the flight, was a small sphere one hundred and eighty centimetres in diameter with seven portholes and an opening of only forty-six centimetres in diameter allowing entry to the interior. It was a strange feeling to see all these aligned balloons held temporarily by counterweights before being assembled along a four hundred and fifty metres cable. In the evening, the aircraft flew away. The flight of Dollfus lasted five hours before falling back in the middle of the night in a field”.

The life inside the nacelle is precisely known thanks to Audouin Dollfus’s logbook from the moment he climbs into this spherical capsule in the evening and triggers the release. The climb is at a speed of nine kilometres per hour. Half an hour later, he would be three thousand metres above sea level. After having reached an altitude of four thousand and twenty metres, he would use an oxygen mask.

At 8:50 pm, Audouin Dollfus would reach six thousand metres. The atmospheric pressure has decreased by half compared to that of the soil. He must close the manhole. The lid is applied and adheres immediately by depression. The cabin is then pressurised by the addition of pure oxygen, which modifies the composition of cabin air which contains half the nitrogen content than normal air, hence a feeling of well-being in the cabin. At 9:10 pm, Audouin Dollfus enjoys a hot tea at seven thousand metres admiring Versailles. At 9:25 pm, a descent movement begins, some balloons having burst.

Audouin Dollfus lightened up by dropping a tank of fifty kilograms of oil used as ballast. Successful manoeuvre, ascension resumes but more slowly. At nine thousand metres of altitude, he will test the observation of Venus. At 10:10 pm, he’ll reach eleven thousand metres, cross the tropopause which limits the ordinary atmosphere. He will therefore be in the stratosphere, goal of this trip. At 10:20 pm, he noticed that ten balloons had burst. At 10:30 pm, the climb becoming slower, he emptied the second tank of oil. The rise resumed and the capsule stabilised at a fourteen thousand metres altitude. At this altitude, the atmospheric pressure was seven times less than that of the ground. He then made the measurements of the Moon. At 11:45 pm, thanks to a radar, he knew that where he was located.

His observation program was reached, he thought to go down, activate the device firing, which must drop balloons at the top of the cluster in groups of six. The firing that was to be done by means of a radio link from the cabin was unfortunately ineffective. No explosion noise. He remained very serene, and called: “I’m wrong because a barely audible response to the ground translates a useless emotion. I have plenty of time to wait, a spontaneous descent is assured. The power consumption is minimal and the oxygen abundant. I have before me half of France before the sea”. The manoeuvre of burst eventually succeed.

As soon as the capsule scraped the ground by overturning, Audouin Dollfus activated the spark gaps that release the remaining balloons. A great calm followed the violent explosions. Releasing from the harness, Audouin Dollfus found himself in the wet grass, feeling almost immediately a hot and viscous body applied against his chest. After a brief moment of fear, using his flashlight, Audouin Dollfus illuminated the muzzle of a cow… Then slipping under barbed wire, he reached the nearest village. After this intense night, he returned to his office in the early morning in Meudon, eager to strip his observations that would allow to deduce by following the presence of water on Mars.

If the flight of April 22, 1959 allowed the observation of Mars and the Moon, it also led to the first precise measurements of the water content of the stratosphere. In January 1963, thanks to a telescope installed on a summit of the Swiss Alps, located at three thousand five hundred and seventy-one metres of altitude, Audouin Dollfus then managed to measure the water vapour content of the Martian atmosphere, taking advantage of an anticyclonic time. Before the Viking spacecraft landed on Mars, the composition of the Martian surface was the subject of many debates. Dollfus tried to determine the composition of the Martian desert, through comparison with the appearance in polarised light of several hundred terrestrial minerals. He found that only pulverised limonite (Fe2O3) corresponded with the appearance of Mars, and concluded that the Martian surface could be composed of iron oxide.

Dollfus also studied the possible presence of an atmosphere around the Moon. The rate of dissipation into space of any gases on the Moon (except for certain rare heavy elements) is so high that no substantial atmosphere is possible. The presence of any atmosphere should be detectable by the polarisation of light; Bernard Lyot and later Dollfus showed that there was no detectable polarisation, thereby confirming the theoretical prediction that the Moon lacks an atmosphere. The asteroid 2451 Dollfus is named in his honour. One of the largest craters on Mars was also named for him in 2013.

Bulgaria 1300, the first Bulgarian satellite

The spacecraft Bulgaria 1300, the first Bulgarian satellite, or Interkosmos 22, was a research satellite, that carried a set of plasma, particles, fields, and optical experiments designed and constructed in Bulgaria on a satellite bus provided by the Soviet Union as part of the Interkosmos program. Bulgaria’s first artificial satellite was named after the 1300th anniversary of the foundation of the Bulgarian state. It was designed to study the ionosphere and magnetosphere of the Earth.

The spacecraft, which was successfully inserted in a near-polar orbit, was three-axis stabilised, based on the VNIIEM built Meteor bus, with the negative Z-axis pointing toward the nadir and the X-axis pointing along the velocity vector. The outer skin of the spacecraft, including the solar panels, was coated with a conducting material in order to allow the proper measurement of electric fields and low energy plasma. Both active and passive thermal control were employed. The solar panels supplied two kW and batteries were used during eclipse periods. For data storage, there were two tape recorders, each with a capacity of sixty megabits. The transmitter radiated about 10 W in the 130 MHz band.

Bulgaria 1300, the first Bulgarian satellite

The satellite, weighing one thousand and five hundred kilograms, was developed by the Bulgarian Space Agency around the “Meteor” bus, provided by the Soviet Union as part of the Interkosmos program. The Meteor spacecraft are weather observation satellites launched by the USSR and Russia. The Meteor satellite series was developed during the 1960s. The Meteor satellites were designed to monitor atmospheric and sea-surface temperatures, humidity, radiation, sea ice conditions, snow-cover, and clouds. Assembly of Bulgaria 1300, the first Bulgarian satellite, took place in Bulgaria, and the spacecraft was launched from Plesetsk on August 7, 1981. During that same year the Bulgarian government organised a massive celebration to commemorate the 1300th anniversary of the country’s founding.

The Plesetsk Cosmodrome, founded in the late 1950s, is a Russian spaceport located in Mirny, Arkhangelsk Oblast, about eight hundred kilometres north of Moscow and approximately two hundred kilometres south of Arkhangelsk. Originally developed as an ICBM site for the R-7 missile, it also served for numerous satellite launches using the R-7 and other rockets. Its high latitude makes it useful only for certain types of launches, especially the Molniya orbits. Plesetsk has seen considerably more activity since the 2000s.

A Molniya (meaning “Lightning” in Russian) orbit, is a type of satellite orbit designed to provide coverage over high latitudes. It is a highly elliptical orbit with an inclination of sixty-three point four degrees, an argument of perigee of two hundred and seventy degrees, and an orbital period of approximately half a sidereal day. The name comes from a series of Soviet/Russian Molniya communications satellites which have used this type of orbit since the mid-1960s.

The Molniya orbit has a long dwell time over the hemisphere of interest, while moving very quickly over the other. The orbit’s high inclination provides a high angle of view to communications and monitoring satellites covering high latitudes. Geostationary orbits, which are necessarily inclined over the equator, can only view these regions from a low angle, hampering performance. In practice, a satellite in a Molniya orbit serves the same purpose for high latitudes as a geostationary satellite does for equatorial regions, except that multiple satellites are required for continuous coverage.

The first Bulgarian satellite’s legal status

What are satellites? They are space object. The term Object in reference to outer space was first used in 1961 in General Assembly Resolution 1721 (XVI) titled International cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space to describe any object launched by States into outer space. Professor Bin Cheng, a world authority on International Air and Space Law, has noted that members of the COPUOS during negotiations over the space treaties treated spacecraft and space vehicles as synonymous terms. The Space Object can be considered as the conventional launcher, the reusable launcher, the satellite, the orbital station, the probe, the impactor, the space telescope…

The term “space object” is not precisely defined by the Onusian space treaties. Let’s note that the five outer space treaties use such phrases as “objects launched into outer space”, object placed “in orbit around the Earth”, “in orbit around or other trajectory to or around the Moon”, or “around other celestial bodies within the solar system, other than the Earth”. Some of the treaties refer also to “spacecraft”, or “landed or constructed on a celestial body”, “man-made space objects”, “space vehicle”, “supplies”, “equipment”, “installations”, “facilities” and “stations”.

Let’s remember that “A treaty shall be interpreted in good faith in accordance with the ordinary meaning to be given to the terms of the treaty in their context and in the light of its object and purpose”, article 31 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties of 1969. In addition, “Recourse may be had to supplementary means of interpretation, including the preparatory work of the treaty and the circumstances of its conclusion, in order to confirm the meaning resulting from the application of article 31, or to determine the meaning when the interpretation according to article 31: (a) leaves the meaning ambiguous or obscure; or (b) leads to a result which is manifestly absurd or unreasonable”, article 32 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties of 1969.

Let’s recall that a space object causing damage triggers international third-party liability under the Convention on International Liability for Damage Caused by Space Objects (entered into force in September 1972). Article I (d) of which enounces that “the term space object includes component parts of a space object as well as its launch vehicle and parts thereof”. Its Article II adds that “A launching State shall be absolutely liable to pay compensation for damage caused by its space object on the surface of the Earth or to aircraft in flight”.

A space object requires, thanks to the Convention on Registration of Objects Launched into Outer Space (entered into force in September 1976), registration. Article II of which states that “When a space object is launched into Earth orbit or beyond, the launching State shall register the space object by means of an entry in an appropriate registry which it shall maintain. Each launching State shall inform the Secretary-General of the United Nations of the establishment of such a registry”.

Finally, the term space object effectively triggers application of much of both the Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies (entered into force in October 1967) and the Agreement on the Rescue of Astronauts, the Return of Astronauts and the Return of Objects Launched into Outer Space (entered into force in December 1968). Article VII of the first declares that “Each State Party to the Treaty that launches or procures the launching of an object into outer space, including the Moon and other celestial bodies, and each State Party from whose territory or facility an object is launched, is internationally liable for damage to another State Party to the Treaty or to its natural or juridical persons by such object or its component parts on the Earth, in air space or in outer space, including the Moon and other celestial bodies”.

Article 5 of the latter states that “1. Each Contracting Party which receives information or discovers that a space object or its component parts has returned to Earth in territory under its jurisdiction or on the high seas or in any other place not under the jurisdiction of any State, shall notify the launching authority and the Secretary-General of the United Nations. 2. Each Contracting Party having jurisdiction over the territory on which a space object or its component parts has been discovered shall, upon the request of the launching authority and with assistance from that authority if requested, take such steps as it finds practicable to recover the object or component parts. 3. Upon request of the launching authority, objects launched into outer space or their component parts found beyond the territorial limits of the launching authority shall be returned to or held at the disposal of representatives of the launching authority, which shall, upon request, furnish identifying data prior to their return”.

The Outer Space Treaty doesn’t really provide a definition for “object launched into outer space” other than an indication in Article VIII that it includes the “component parts” of the “object launched into outer space”. It states that “A State Party to the Treaty on whose registry an object launched into outer space is carried shall retain jurisdiction and control over such object, and over any personnel thereof, while in outer space or on a celestial body. Ownership of objects launched into outer space, including objects landed or constructed on a celestial body, and of their component parts, is not affected by their presence in outer space or on a celestial body or by their return to the Earth. Such objects or component parts found beyond the limits of the State Party to the Treaty on whose registry they are carried shall be returned to that State Party, which shall, upon request, furnish identifying data prior to their return”.

We can conclude by saying that Bulgaria 1300, the first Bulgarian satellite, was a space object.

Drones: new uses, new regulations, new technologies

As everyone can see, the new applications of drones – or at least the ideas of use – are extremely numerous and varied. Drones are today used for agriculture, the medias, long-range surveillance, the transport of packages or passengers, swarming for military use, and so on.

Each of these ideas promises progress, whether it addresses a need for comfort, increased safety, accuracy, or efficiency. Nevertheless, to become real markets, we will have to overcome some technical obstacles, and of course find a regulatory translation. The different countries are thus working on related developments. All this requires technical work, sometimes very complex, to allow these advances, and ensure safe use of drones in the airspace.

The definition of a drone

An unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) (or uncrewed aerial vehicle), commonly known as a drone, is an aircraft without a human pilot on board. UAVs are a component of an unmanned aircraft system (UAS); which include a UAV, a ground-based controller, and a system of communications between the two. The flight of UAVs may operate with various degrees of autonomy: either under remote control by a human operator or autonomously by onboard computers.

A UAV is defined as a “powered, aerial vehicle that does not carry a human operator, uses aerodynamic forces to provide vehicle lift, can fly autonomously or be piloted remotely, can be expendable or recoverable, and can carry a lethal or nonlethal payload”. Therefore, missiles are not considered UAVs because the vehicle itself is a weapon that is not reused, though it is also uncrewed and in some cases remotely guided.

The term “drone”, more widely used by the public, was coined in reference to the early remotely-flown target aircraft used for practice firing of a battleship’s guns, and the term was first used with the 1920s Fairey Queen and 1930’s de Havilland Queen Bee target aircraft. These two were followed in service by the similarly-named Airspeed Queen Wasp and Miles Queen Martinet, before ultimate replacement by the GAF Jindivik. The term unmanned aircraft system (UAS) was adopted by the United States Department of Defense (DoD) and the United States Federal Aviation Administration in 2005. The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the British Civil Aviation Authority adopted this term, also used in the European Union’s Single-European-Sky (SES) Air-Traffic-Management (ATM) Research (SESAR Joint Undertaking) roadmap for 2020.

Compared to crewed aircraft, UAVs were originally used for missions too “dull, dirty or dangerous” for humans. While they originated mostly in military applications, their use is rapidly expanding to commercial, scientific, recreational, agricultural, and other applications, such as policing, peacekeeping, and surveillance, product deliveries, aerial photography, smuggling, and drone racing. Civilian UAVs now vastly outnumber military UAVs.

Security, a key challenge

Security is the first component that needs to be addressed. The proliferation of drones in the airspace, which we press, must not unduly alter the security of citizens. This requirement is at the same time central for the regulatory authorities, who guarantee it, and for the technical developments, which must make it possible. Indeed, the safety related to such devices poses many challenges. First, how to properly define the level of security required for a given UAV application. Thus, according to its dangerousness, its social utility, its context, is the good reference transport aviation, whose levels of maturity and security are exceptional today? Is it general aviation, whose risk is greater? Or the risks of everyday life?

Once this level of security to reach is defined, the tools to check the outfit remain to be designed. Thus, some equipment used for drones (software, spare parts) do not benefit from the rich experience feedback available for example in the automobile, making the analysis of their reliability complex. Another area that remains largely to explore is the effect of the fall of small drones: this effect is poorly known, and depends of course on the design of the drone, materials, shapes, etc.

The process of defining and evaluating the safety of drones must also be compatible with the structures of the companies concerned, which are often small or very small enterprises. But this should not be at the expense of security: hence the need to advance on the definition, evaluation and more generally the methodological tools around security and its dissemination.

One particular point concerns cyber-security: the multiplication of drones must not offer any vulnerabilities in this respect. It is therefore essential to be concerned about this aspect, which also concerns air transport as a whole. The malicious use that can be made of drones also recalls the threat that may represent them, and the need for actions to counteract them: these actions concern both the regulatory plan (reporting obligations, registration, etc.) as the technical plan, the ability to detect them, identify them and neutralise them.

These considerations can be contrasted with the regulatory advances at European level for example, where the more precise approach is based on an analysis of the risk posed by the uses of drones, classifying them in three groups: an “Open category”, grouping transactions whose associated risk is rather low, with a proportionate requirement, a “Certified category”, whose high risk is made acceptable by requirements similar to those of traditional aviation, and a “Specific category”, which represents operations that are too risky to be “Open category”, but not so much as to justify the same requirements as the “Certified category”.

Approaches developed in international groups seek to structure this type of approach. However, it remains essential to develop methods to analyse risks rigorously: methods for identifying and qualifying risks (air hazards, soil risks…), methods of assessing the magnitude of risks for a given mission, design methods incorporating security, reconfiguration methods in flight, methods to demonstrate that the system of drone satisfies all applicable requirements, etc. These developments are now underway in various parts of the world. The objectives are to identify the technical hard points that would affect the safety of a routine operation of the type considered, to lead the work to remove the associated technical locks, to define technical solutions, and finally to define a regulatory framework allowing the operation to be carried out, relying on the defined approaches.

Thus, different large applications follow this pattern: 1. Simplified scenarios for flights of small drones over proprietary land: here, the main need lies in the ability to maintain the drone in the authorised sector. This feature exists, of course, but requires a guarantee of reliability that is not acquired. 2. Scenarios for Large Elongation Operations, for drones flying several hundred kilometres, with guarantees to be made on the trajectory, a process of insertion into the airspace to be defined, reliable communication links. 3. Finally urban logistics and urban taxis scenarios, with a very high population density, a complex electromagnetic environment, operations to be defined, a logic of sharing the airspace to be specified.

Complex Legal Issues

To conclude, it should be noted that, while regulation will regulate these new uses, other essential parameters will also determine success, such as the societal acceptability that will allow their expansion or cause their rejection. This one in return rests on several dimensions.

Security, again and of course. It is not only a key for regulatory authorities, but also a guarantee of acceptance by the general public. As such, pedagogy is needed, especially for developments that use artificial intelligence technologies. This one indeed presents to this day a certain intrinsic opacity: to understand the internal mechanism which culminated in a decision of the algorithms of this family is often inaccessible. The intelligibility of artificial intelligence is a field of active research and will serve as such.

Control of nuisances: the question of noise is central here. However, with more and more flying machines, with one or more rotors in most of the proposed formulas, specialists agree to see this as one of the most complex issues. Whether in terms of noise production, mechanisms that may obscure it, or its propagation in an urban environment, there are many areas where understanding needs to be advanced.

Another vital dimension for these new sectors is the economic viability of the models. In return, it calls for compromises of all kinds, aerodynamic performance, reduced consumption, high speed, progress on batteries for example, and so on. And all this without compromising security.

These issues are complex and often contradictory. They are frequently based on the understanding of phenomena that remains largely to be explored; all subjects on which research must still progress. In addition, the international competition on these themes is fierce; large industrial investments and ambitious research programs are being carried out all over the world.

General Rules for Flying a Drone in France

Based on our research and interpretation of the laws, here are the most important rules to know for flying a drone in France. All drones of eight hundred grams or more must be registered by their owner on AlphaTango, the public portal for users of remotely piloted aircraft. The drone then receives a registration number that must be affixed permanently, visibly, on the drone and must allow reading at a distance of thirty centimetres, with the naked eye. The drone pilot must be able to provide proof of registration in the event of a check.

Drone pilots must maintain a line of sight with their drones at all times. If a visual observer is tracking the drone, the pilot may fly out of his or her own range of sight. Drones may not be flown at night (unless with special authorisation from the local prefect). Drones may not be flown over people; over airports or airfields; over private property (unless with owner’s authorisation); over military installations, prisons, nuclear power plants, historical monuments, or national parks. Drones may also not be flown over ongoing fires, accident zones, or around emergency services. Drones may not be flown above one hundred and fifty meters, or higher than fifty meters, above any object or building that is one hundred meters or more in height.

The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea

The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea is an independent judicial body established by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea to adjudicate disputes arising out of the interpretation and application of the Convention. The Tribunal is composed of twenty-one independent members, elected from among persons enjoying the highest reputation for fairness and integrity and of recognised competence in the field of the Law of the Sea.

History

The origins of the Convention date from November 1, 1967 when Arvid Pardo (February 12, 1914 – June 19, 1999), a Maltese and Swedish diplomat, scholar, and university professor known as the “Father of the Law of the Sea Conference” called for “an effective international regime over the seabed and the ocean floor beyond a clearly defined national jurisdiction”. This led to the convening, in 1973, of the Third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea, which after nine years of negotiations adopted the Convention.

The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea was opened for signature at Montego Bay, Jamaica, on December 10, 1982. It entered into force twelve years later, on November 16, 1994. A subsequent Agreement relating to the implementation of Part XI of the Convention was adopted on July 28, 1994 and entered into force on July 28, 1996. This Agreement and Part XI of the Convention are to be interpreted and applied together as a single instrument.

Part XV of the Convention lays down a comprehensive system for the settlement of disputes that might arise with respect to the interpretation and application of the Convention. It requires States Parties to settle their disputes concerning the interpretation or application of the Convention by peaceful means indicated in the Charter of the United Nations. However, if parties to a dispute fail to reach a settlement by peaceful means of their own choice, they are obliged to resort to the compulsory dispute settlement procedures entailing binding decisions, subject to limitations and exceptions contained in the Convention. The mechanism established by the Convention provides for four alternative means for the settlement of disputes: the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, the International Court of Justice, an arbitral tribunal constituted in accordance with Annex VII to the Convention, and a special arbitral tribunal constituted in accordance with Annex VIII to the Convention.

Article 287 (Choice of procedure) of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea states that “1. When signing, ratifying or acceding to this Convention or at any time thereafter, a State shall be free to choose, by means of a written declaration, one or more of the following means for the settlement of disputes concerning the interpretation or application of this Convention: (a) the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea established in accordance with Annex VI; (b) the International Court of Justice; (c) an arbitral tribunal constituted in accordance with Annex VII; (d) a special arbitral tribunal constituted in accordance with Annex VIII for one or more of the categories of disputes specified therein”.

2. A declaration made under paragraph 1 shall not affect or be affected by the obligation of a State Party to accept the jurisdiction of the Seabed Disputes Chamber of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea to the extent and in the manner provided for in Part XI, section 5. 3. A State Party, which is a party to a dispute not covered by a declaration in force, shall be deemed to have accepted arbitration in accordance with Annex VII. 4. If the parties to a dispute have accepted the same procedure for the settlement of the dispute, it may be submitted only to that procedure, unless the parties otherwise agree. 5. If the parties to a dispute have not accepted the same procedure for the settlement of the dispute, it may be submitted only to arbitration in accordance with Annex VII, unless the parties otherwise agree. 6. A declaration made under paragraph 1 shall remain in force until three months after notice of revocation has been deposited with the Secretary-General of the United Nations. 7. A new declaration, a notice of revocation or the expiry of a declaration does not in any way affect proceedings pending before a court or tribunal having jurisdiction under this article, unless the parties otherwise agree. 8. Declarations and notices referred to in this article shall be deposited with the Secretary-General of the United Nations, who shall transmit copies thereof to the States Parties”.

The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea

Article 1 (General provisions) of the STATUTE OF THE INTERNATIONAL TRIBUNAL FOR THE LAW OF THE SEA states that “1. The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea is constituted and shall function in accordance with the provisions of this Convention and this Statute. 2. The seat of the Tribunal shall be in the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg in the Federal Republic of Germany. 3. The Tribunal may sit and exercise its functions elsewhere whenever it considers this desirable. 4. A reference of a dispute to the Tribunal shall be governed by the provisions of Parts XI and XV”.

Article 2 (Composition) enounces that “1. The Tribunal shall be composed of a body of 21 independent members, elected from among persons enjoying the highest reputation for fairness and integrity and of recognized competence in the field of the law of the sea. 2. In the Tribunal as a whole the representation of the principal legal systems of the world and equitable geographical distribution shall be assured”.

Article 3 (Membership) declares that “1. No two members of the Tribunal may be nationals of the same State. A person who for the purposes of membership in the Tribunal could be regarded as a national of more than one State shall be deemed to be a national of the one in which he ordinarily exercises civil and political rights. 2. There shall be no fewer than three members from each geographical group as established by the General Assembly of the United Nations”.

The Tribunal has jurisdiction over any dispute concerning the interpretation or application of the Convention, and over all matters specifically provided for in any other agreement which confers jurisdiction on the Tribunal. The Tribunal is open to States Parties to the Convention. It is also open to entities other than States Parties.

Pursuant to the provisions of its Statute, the Tribunal has formed the following Chambers: the Chamber of Summary Procedure, the Chamber for Fisheries Disputes, the Chamber for Marine Environment Disputes and the Chamber for Maritime Delimitation Disputes. Disputes relating to activities in the International Seabed Area are submitted to the Seabed Disputes Chamber of the Tribunal, consisting of eleven judges. Any party to a dispute over which the Seabed Disputes Chamber has jurisdiction may request the Seabed Disputes Chamber to form an ad hoc chamber composed of three members of the Seabed Disputes Chamber. The Seabed Disputes Chamber is competent to give advisory opinions on legal questions arising within the scope of the activities of the International Seabed Authority. The Tribunal may also give advisory opinions in certain cases under international agreements related to the purposes of the Convention.

The jurisdiction of the Tribunal comprises all disputes submitted to it in accordance with the Convention. It also extends to all matters specifically provided for in any other agreement which confers jurisdiction on the Tribunal. To date, more than ten multilateral agreements have been concluded which confer jurisdiction on the Tribunal. Disputes before the Tribunal are instituted either by written application or by notification of a special agreement. The procedure to be followed for the conduct of cases submitted to the Tribunal is defined in its Statute and Rules.

The most isolated villages on Earth

Let’s have a look at the most isolated villages on Earth. On Earth, there are villages so isolated that their inhabitants are forced to live without any connection with the outside world. These examples illustrate the difficulties that will encounter a human colony installed on the Moon or on Mars. In fact, according to NASA, temperatures on Mars at low altitude are similar to those in Antarctica. However, let’s stay on Earth and discuss four locations: Villa Las Estrellas (Antarctica), Longyearbyen (Norway), Whittier (Alaska, USA) and Ittoqqortoormiit (Greenland).

Villa Las Estrellas (Antarctica)

During the twentieth century, several nations have claimed lands on the Antarctic continent. These claims are frozen because of the signing of the Antarctic Treaty in 1961 by the nations in question. In Antarctica, the climate is one of the harshest on the planet. The environment is definitely not encouraging to foster human growth.

The Chilean Antarctic Territory is a region of the Antarctic, located between 53° and 90° west longitude. It is considered as a full part of the country since 1940, and as a province of region XII. In the heart of this area claimed by the Chile we can find the village of Las Estrellas, where people fight everyday against nature to survive. In this region of Antarctica, the temperature can reach 38°C in summer but it can drop to minus 40°C in winter. Progressively, they adapted to the harsh climate conditions and learned to deal with the region’s wildlife.

The village of Las Estrellas is situated near to the Chilean base “President Eduardo Frei”, on the Fildes Peninsula, in the South Shetland Islands. Villa Las Estrellas, is home to only scientists, military and their families. There is a school, a hospital, a hotel, a post office, an internet network, and a network for mobile phones. Since the creation of the small school in 1985, around three hundred children have attended.

To live decently they rely mostly on a good organisation. The local grocery store is not provided with a wide variety of products and opens only few days in the month. Everything comes from the continent and most of the food has to be frozen.

Longyearbyen (Norway)

Longyearbyen is located in Norway and it is the nearest village to the Arctic Circle, on a Norwegian archipelago, just one thousand kilometres from the North Pole. Most of the time it is only possible to reach the village by plane. There, two thousand inhabitants coexist with the wildlife. They consider the place as their small paradise of nature. Surrounded by icy mountains and the Arctic sea, the winds are one of the roughest on the planet. In winter, temperatures can drop to minus 30°C.

Summers in the city are cool, with average low temperatures around 7°C in July. The winters in Longyearbyen are very cold with fairly low average temperatures: -21°C in February. The city has less than three hundred millimetres of precipitation a year, mostly in the form of snow.

Life in Longyearbyen has always been a challenge. Firstly, it was essentially focused on mining but with the evolution of tourism, the mining city has gradually become a real city with sports facilities, cinemas, libraries, discotheques, hotels, bars, restaurants, etc. Even a jazz festival is organised every spring.

Local laws have also adapted to the particular environment and may seem strange to us: inhabitants are not allowed to own a cat (to preserve the birdlife of the region), alcohol consumption is limited, and the most original one: it is totally forbidden to die in the city since the fifties! It’s explained by climatic reasons: negative temperatures prevent the decomposition of corpses in the ground which remain frozen permanently.

Whittier (Alaska, USA)

Whittier is situated in Alaska, in the United States of America, belonging to the Valdez-Cordova Census Area, near the Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel. The city had two hundred and twenty-two inhabitants in 2013.

During World War II, the US Army built military installations, with a port and a railway station, near the Whittier Glacier. Once the buildings were completed in 1943, the harbour became one of the gateways for American soldiers in Alaska, and this lasted until 1960. The city was severely damaged by tsunamis following the 1964 earthquake, with 13-meter waves killing more than ten people.

Today, Whittier is the starting point for cruise ships, and is connected both by road and rail, via the Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel, to Anchorage and Denali National Park by the Alaska Railroad. The tunnel allowing, alternately, the car traffic and the passage of the train. Whittier is also a touristic town where you can fish and hunt and do several recreational activities.

Ittoqqortoormiit (Greenland)

Ittoqqortoormiit is located in a huge fjord on the east coast of Greenland. It is one of the most isolated inhabited places in Greenland: it is usually joined by helicopter, as it is accessible by boat only a few days per year. The population is composed of three hundred and fifty-five inhabitants in 2019. Ittoqqortoormiit is a few hundred kilometres southeast of the Northeast Greenland National Park. The place is known for its flora and fauna, which includes polar bears, musk oxen, and sea lions.

Both distractions and opportunities are rare for young people there, and many are looking for work elsewhere. Moreover, in recent years the population of Ittoqqortoormiit has continued to decline. A bit of tourism is starting to develop in the region, but it is mostly the result of foreign initiatives and generates almost very few local employments.

Conclusion

Looking at the most isolated villages on Earth, a common conclusion can be deducted out of these examples, insulation comes with many problems such as providing sufficient food, employment and access to basic necessities…

Some solutions were proposed such as the development of tourism but most of the time the villages are dependent of a larger region. A colony on Mars or on the Moon will face the same problems but on a more important scale. It is essential to observe the needs and deprivations of these populations in order to be as prepared as possible to send people to live far from the Earth.

Experiments are already being conducted in this direction, such as the HI-SEAS (Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation) initiative in Hawaii by NASA. HI-SEAS is a scientific mission program at the University of Hawaii that aims to stimulate life in a village on Mars. These missions take place in an isolated dome on the Mauna Loa volcano on the island of Hawaii at an altitude of about two thousand and five hundred meters. They have carried out different missions; two four month missions, one of eight months and a one year one. The main objective of this program is to determine what is necessary to take into account to keep a healthy and efficient crew during a mission to and on Mars. Research focuses, on social dynamics, behaviour, nutrition and intellectual capacities under conditions similar to those of a mission to Mars.

Cyprien Verseux is a scientist who participated in the one-year HI-SEAS mission. In 2018, he renewed the experiment with a mission at Concordia base in Antarctica. In parallel with the observation of the consequences of extreme isolation on the human body and mind. Scientific research continues to be conducted and often leads to fabulous discoveries. Studying as much as possible the most isolated villages on Earth reduces costs and speeds up the implementation of science base or village projects on the Moon, on Mars or anywhere else.

An interview with Dr. Maria Costanzo

The interview concerns Dr. Maria Costanzo, Solution Engineers & Innovation Director of Oracle Italia, who illustrated the potential of Big Data, Oracle’s innovative solutions and some common points that this field presents with the Space Economy. Oracle Corporation is a software company operating in the field of software, data management, cloud solutions and database optimisation.

Dr. Maria Costanzo, can you give us an initial overview of Big Data and the role of Oracle Italy?

I consider extremely interesting the fact that big data can put together a large amount of information, which, although apparently unrelated to the beginning, once united in a single environment reveals repetitive patterns that were not identifiable before. This new approach paves the way for new discoveries, not only scientific ones, but others that cover the most disparate sectors as well: the quantity of data provides solutions which would be impossible to reach by observing the single data belonging to a specific device.

Therefore, the most important value of big data and the acquisition of information within analytical platforms is being able to identify hidden information deriving from the crossing of heterogeneous data.

Another key element is represented by the introduction and use of artificial intelligence technologies: in this regard, Oracle can provide significant support because in our Cloud platforms we have made available technologies that allow extremely advanced processing (GPU) functional to the elaboration and the training of complex artificial intelligence algorithms (i.e. neural networks, deep learning). One of the most interesting aspects in this regard, is given by the ability to process intelligence from this information without limiting itself to their simple observation: when we talk about augmented analytics in fact, we refer to the ability to be able to increase the value of the data, extracting new information deriving from their processing.

In terms of data management solutions, the company is moving towards the forefront of data management. In fact, the solutions promoted by Oracle in this field represent absolute excellence. The extra step Oracle took was to use artificial intelligence to make sure that the use of this excellence was available to everyone. Specifically, if a system self-manages and is also able to protect itself against cyber-attacks, surely the system reduces the level of risk and simplifies the level of management. This autonomy allows technicians to dedicate their activities to more relevant tasks, leaving the database to work alone on its management.

In this perspective, I therefore see Oracle’s Autonomous Database as a simplifier and as an accelerator. The security guaranteed by our Autonomous Database can be fundamental for the protection of data collected by satellites for military use. The solutions in which Oracle is significantly investing are security and AI: the Autonomous DB can generally be defined as a simplifying tool that, through AI, exploits all our know-how over the last forty years on data management to ensure that the security levels are extremely high and the DB is able to “defend itself”.

In this historical period, we have to deal with a growing data volume, and this requires an extremely agile environment in developing solutions suitable for their processing. In this sense, a Cloud environment represents the most effective solution for information management: in this case, the solutions that Oracle makes available to customers are designed to allow horizontal scalability when they are used, so there are no limits to the amount of data that can be processed (even) in real time.

Once elaborated patterns of AI algorithms are identified, another strength is represented by the application of this knowledge in real time, during the progressive data collection. This makes it possible to make the data “actionable” as they are collected, and to have an immediate result with respect to the information that arrives. To achieve this, we need extremely high processing capabilities that Oracle makes available with its own technology.

Dr. Maria Costanzo, what is actionable data?

In the moment in which a datum is acquired and it is elaborated through an algorithm, a “meaning” of the data is obtained: to that point it is necessary to apply such algorithm to the new data that will be acquired. This process is useful for classifying information received in real time, because it eliminates the need to process it later. This method therefore makes it possible to increase the speed of data interpretation precisely because this speed takes advantage of the analytical technologies made available in the initial phase of processing the first data collected.

Dr. Maria Costanzo, what role does Oracle marketing cloud play in all this?

Part of our SaaS offer, it’s the most effective tool for the dissemination of scientific information.

Dr. Maria Costanzo, how does one connect the usefulness of these systems to everyday life? What are the methods to be adopted to make the citizen understand the usefulness of this data?

The data processing process is currently seen as a derivative that is very distant from the benefits that reach the end users. What the end user perceives is a sort of “simplification” of one’s life or work activity. At present there is not yet a full awareness of the fundamental nature of data processing. From a general point of view, I feel I can say that big data helps to have a better level of visibility on what is happening, and therefore allows us to make more efficient decisions. When we begin to examine the “nuances” through detailed and large-scale analyses, the differences and details can be better identified. These last two factors allow us to make more precise decisions. Data analysis can be defined as a huge magnifying glass on something that we normally see in a much lower quality. Thanks to this enlargement, the details are identified and we start to understand how the correlations that are the basis of various phenomena, unfold. In reality they foresee many other causes that up to that moment had not been taken in consideration.

Can we therefore say that the intersection of different data leads to the discovery of a tertium genus of data?

Certainly. In this regard, there was a case where one of our customers had developed algorithms to increase their business. Algorithms were already precise in their own right, but could not increase business: the problem did not lie in the algorithm (this was already well structured) but in the fact that the information on which the forecasts were based was not sufficient. Only when other data was collected from sources, apparently not linked to that specific business phenomenon, did the system began to change its points of reference. In fact, drawing on new data sets, the indicators that were able to influence the phenomenon turned out to be different from those we originally thought would be. We then realised how other elements, initially not considered, were able to influence the phenomenon.

This is the true value of a data driven action: the more data that is put together, even if they are not necessarily correlated with each other, the greater the probability of expanding the ability to view detail and knowledge of a phenomenon through correlations that they escape the human mind but not the technologies. This process is not uniform and limited, on the contrary it is advisable to enrich the data sets more and more (to understand the factors that contribute to the data analysis phenomenon).

So data could be defined as a kind of hidden truth machine?

Yes, data can reveal everything about different phenomena. Personally, I think the open and free data policy is particularly stimulating: the greater the interaction between data belonging to different bodies and structures, the greater is the level of information that results. Proceeding in this direction, we will probably discover aspects that until now have been unimaginable. Nowadays data has become a real value, it is becoming an essential element, to the point of being able to be listed on the stock exchange as a private asset of a company. But it is necessary to go beyond this type of perspective: the data must be something totally available, because it is able to increase information and therefore promote knowledge.

Dr. Maria Costanzo, in this sense, can we hypothesise a social function of the data?

Certainly. But we must always remember that data is so powerful that it can also result in negative uses, and at that point an ethical problem arises. The real problem lies precisely in a possible incorrect use that can be made of the data. For example, I refer to influences on political decisions through the manipulation of the masses of information. There may also be cases in which the structure of the data sets on which the algorithms are based lead them to discriminate: some features of the social context could in fact lead to algorithms for exclusions and / or discrimination (i.e. failure to grant loans to people of a certain race or a certain sex). In conclusion, extreme automation is a crucial factor, but we must then process the information in the correct way to avoid it being amplified, through AI; which is an anomaly that instead is present as a social phenomenon.

Dr. Maria Costanzo, what are the policies that Oracle is adopting with regards to this correct and ethical data management?

The entire information management aspect also includes a data preparation phase, so that it can then be used for analytical or scientific purposes, such as data security management and governance. The use of AI for the Oracle Autonomous Database is based on data concerning the knowledge of the management of a database for which the decisions taken are taken based on the type of use that is made of the Database: this in an automation of automatic processes able to save a Database administrator’s time and work.

The Oracle Autonomous Database hinges on the concept of automated optimisation. What are the features of this concept?

The Autonomous DB makes the machines perform repetitive repair, updating and maintenance tasks, reserving the most valuable activities for humans, especially on the subject of safety. In eighty-five per cent of the attacks, in fact, the patches useful for guaranteeing invulnerability are already available, but the problem is that they have not yet been installed for issues related to the human component (delays, priorities, forgetfulness, etc.). Machine learning instead, in addition to providing a high level of vigilance, is able to guarantee that the software is always up to date; in this sense, thanks to automation, the factor of human error is eliminated.

An analogous situation occurs if the system deems to have an unsuitable functioning: when a request for information is made to the Database, it takes a certain path whose speed varies according to the degree of optimisation. The system is able to understand the types of research carried out and is able to learn from these. Through learning it will suggest the best paths to ensure that the answer arrives as quickly as possible, and all this is done in total autonomy. The system therefore learns through the use made by the user and optimises itself independently to guarantee the best performance based on the use of each specific user. In this way the system increasingly eliminates human intervention.

Dr. Maria Costanzo, what will Oracle’s future challenges for data management be?

The fundamental tasks of the company are those of AI and security. These two factors are crucial because we want to be able to provide our users with safe solutions. Considering that the data has enormous value and is placed in cloud platforms, we must guarantee our customers absolute security. We are working on different fields, including prevention of cyber-attacks.

Moreover, when it comes to Cloud solutions, the problem is no longer confined to the home but becomes global. The storage of information on the Cloud can arouse fear, especially if this information is sensitive. In this case the customer wants absolute guarantees that the information residing in distant places and managed by third parties is protected and any distorted uses of the same are avoided. In this perspective, all companies are beginning asked to make extremely strict security claims, and it is right that this is the case. Oracle is working hard to ensure the highest security standards. It is essential to adopt a conscientious data management, as the ethical component in this field is becoming increasingly important.

Carlo Belbusti holds a Master’s Degree in Law from Roma Tre University. He also attended a Postgraduate course in space law and policies at the Italian Society for the International Organization.

The Beagle 2 British Mars lander

The Beagle 2 British Mars lander was a Mars lander initially mounted on the top deck of the Mars Express Orbiter. A lander is a spacecraft which descends toward and comes to rest on the surface of an astronomical body. By contrast with an impact probe, which makes a hard landing and is damaged or destroyed so ceases to function after reaching the surface, a lander makes a soft landing after which the probe remains functional.

Beagle 2 was declared lost after no communications were received following the scheduled landing on Mars. Attempts at contact were made for over a month after the expected landing on December 25, 2003. A board of inquiry was appointed to look into the reason for the failure and released its report on August 24, 2004. No concrete reason for the space probe’s failure was determined. Factors that were considered as plausible causes of the failure were unusually thin atmosphere over the landing site, electronic glitches, a gas bag puncture, damage to a heat shield, a broken communications antenna, and collision with an unforeseen object.

The Beagle 2 is a British-led effort as part of the European Space Agency’s Mars Express mission. It is named after the HMS Beagle, the ship which carried Charles Darwin on the voyage which led to his discovery of natural selection and evolution. The exact cost of Beagle 2 is not known, but most estimates are roughly around seventy million dollars.

Mars Express

Mars Express is a space exploration mission being conducted by the European Space Agency (ESA). The Mars Express mission is exploring the planet Mars, and is the first planetary mission attempted by the agency. “Express” originally referred to the speed and efficiency with which the spacecraft was designed and built. However, it also describes the spacecraft’s relatively short interplanetary voyage, a result of being launched when the orbits of Earth and Mars brought them closer than they had been in about sixty thousand years.

Mars Express consists of two parts, the Mars Express Orbiter and Beagle 2, a lander designed to perform exobiology and geochemistry research. Although the lander failed to fully deploy after it landed on the Martian surface, the orbiter has been successfully performing scientific measurements since early 2004, namely, high-resolution imaging and mineralogical mapping of the surface, radar sounding of the subsurface structure down to the permafrost, precise determination of the atmospheric circulation and composition, and study of the interaction of the atmosphere with the interplanetary medium.

The Beagle 2 British Mars lander

The Beagle 2 British Mars lander was released on a ballistic trajectory towards Mars from the Orbiter on December 19, 2003 on a course to land on Mars on December 25, 2003. Isidis Planitia, a large flat region that overlies the boundary between the ancient highlands and the northern plains of Mars (a plain located inside a giant impact basin on Mars), was chosen as the landing site. No signals were received following the scheduled landing and after over a month of attempts at contact the mission was declared lost. A board of inquiry has been appointed to look into the reason for the failure.

The packed probe on Earth weighed sixty-nine kilograms. The lander inside weighed thirty-three kilograms. Of this, nine kilograms were taken up by the science package. Beagle 2 would have not return home. It would have carried out all its analysis of rocks, soil and the atmosphere in-situ on Mars, controlled remotely from Earth. The return (telemetry) link from Beagle 2 to Odyssey and Mars Express is 401.56 MHz. The forward (command) link from Mars Express and Odyssey is 437.1 MHz. Both are UHF.

The lander was expected to operate for about one hundred and eighty days and an extended mission of up to one Martian year (six hundred and eighty Earth days) was considered possible. The Beagle 2 lander objectives were to characterise the landing site geology, mineralogy, geochemistry and oxidation state, the physical properties of the atmosphere and surface layers, collect data on Martian meteorology and climatology, and search for signatures of life.

The Beagle 2 British Mars lander’s legal status

What are space probes? They are space object. The term Object in reference to outer space was first used in 1961 in General Assembly Resolution 1721 (XVI) titled International cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space to describe any object launched by States into outer space. Professor Bin Cheng, a world authority on International Air and Space Law, has noted that members of the COPUOS during negotiations over the space treaties treated spacecraft and space vehicles as synonymous terms. The Space Object can be considered as the conventional launcher, the reusable launcher, the satellite, the orbital station, the probe, the impactor, the space telescope…

The term “space object” is not precisely defined by the Onusian space treaties. Let’s note that the five outer space treaties use such phrases as “objects launched into outer space”, object placed “in orbit around the Earth”, “in orbit around or other trajectory to or around the Moon”, or “around other celestial bodies within the solar system, other than the Earth”. Some of the treaties refer also to “spacecraft”, or “landed or constructed on a celestial body”, “man-made space objects”, “space vehicle”, “supplies”, “equipment”, “installations”, “facilities” and “stations”.

Let’s remember that “A treaty shall be interpreted in good faith in accordance with the ordinary meaning to be given to the terms of the treaty in their context and in the light of its object and purpose”, article 31 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties of 1969. In addition, “Recourse may be had to supplementary means of interpretation, including the preparatory work of the treaty and the circumstances of its conclusion, in order to confirm the meaning resulting from the application of article 31, or to determine the meaning when the interpretation according to article 31: (a) leaves the meaning ambiguous or obscure; or (b) leads to a result which is manifestly absurd or unreasonable”, article 32 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties of 1969.

Let’s recall that a space object causing damage triggers international third-party liability under the Convention on International Liability for Damage Caused by Space Objects (entered into force in September 1972). Article I (d) of which enounces that “the term space object includes component parts of a space object as well as its launch vehicle and parts thereof”. Its Article II adds that “A launching State shall be absolutely liable to pay compensation for damage caused by its space object on the surface of the Earth or to aircraft in flight”.

A space object requires, thanks to the Convention on Registration of Objects Launched into Outer Space (entered into force in September 1976), registration. Article II of which states that “When a space object is launched into Earth orbit or beyond, the launching State shall register the space object by means of an entry in an appropriate registry which it shall maintain. Each launching State shall inform the Secretary-General of the United Nations of the establishment of such a registry”.

Finally, the term space object effectively triggers application of much of both the Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies (entered into force in October 1967) and the Agreement on the Rescue of Astronauts, the Return of Astronauts and the Return of Objects Launched into Outer Space (entered into force in December 1968). Article VII of the first declares that “Each State Party to the Treaty that launches or procures the launching of an object into outer space, including the Moon and other celestial bodies, and each State Party from whose territory or facility an object is launched, is internationally liable for damage to another State Party to the Treaty or to its natural or juridical persons by such object or its component parts on the Earth, in air space or in outer space, including the Moon and other celestial bodies”.

Article 5 of the latter states that “1. Each Contracting Party which receives information or discovers that a space object or its component parts has returned to Earth in territory under its jurisdiction or on the high seas or in any other place not under the jurisdiction of any State, shall notify the launching authority and the Secretary-General of the United Nations. 2. Each Contracting Party having jurisdiction over the territory on which a space object or its component parts has been discovered shall, upon the request of the launching authority and with assistance from that authority if requested, take such steps as it finds practicable to recover the object or component parts. 3. Upon request of the launching authority, objects launched into outer space or their component parts found beyond the territorial limits of the launching authority shall be returned to or held at the disposal of representatives of the launching authority, which shall, upon request, furnish identifying data prior to their return”.

The Outer Space Treaty doesn’t really provide a definition for “object launched into outer space” other than an indication in Article VIII that it includes the “component parts” of the “object launched into outer space”. It states that “A State Party to the Treaty on whose registry an object launched into outer space is carried shall retain jurisdiction and control over such object, and over any personnel thereof, while in outer space or on a celestial body. Ownership of objects launched into outer space, including objects landed or constructed on a celestial body, and of their component parts, is not affected by their presence in outer space or on a celestial body or by their return to the Earth. Such objects or component parts found beyond the limits of the State Party to the Treaty on whose registry they are carried shall be returned to that State Party, which shall, upon request, furnish identifying data prior to their return”.

We can conclude by saying that the Beagle 2 British Mars lander, a Mars lander initially mounted on the top deck of the Mars Express Orbiter, was a space object.

The International Maritime Organization

The International Maritime Organization (IMO), known as the Inter-Governmental Maritime Consultative Organization (IMCO) until 1982, is a specialised agency of the United Nations responsible for regulating shipping. The IMO, headquartered in London, was established following agreement at a UN conference held in Geneva in 1948 and came into existence ten years later, meeting for the first time in 1959.

As a specialised agency of the United Nations, IMO is the global standard-setting authority for the safety, security and environmental performance of international shipping. Its main role is to create a regulatory framework for the shipping industry that is fair and effective, universally adopted and universally implemented.

Its role is to create a level playing-field so that ship operators cannot address their financial issues by simply cutting corners and compromising on safety, security and environmental performance. This approach also encourages innovation and efficiency.

Shipping is a truly international industry, and it can only operate effectively if the regulations and standards are themselves agreed, adopted and implemented on an international basis. And IMO is the forum at which this process takes place.

The International Maritime Organization

It has always been recognised that the best way of improving safety at sea is by developing international regulations that are followed by all shipping nations. From the mid-19th century onwards, a number of such treaties were adopted. Several countries proposed that a permanent international body should be established to promote maritime safety more effectively, but it was not until the establishment of the United Nations itself that these hopes were realised. In 1948, an international conference in Geneva adopted a convention formally establishing the International Maritime Organization (the original name was the Inter-Governmental Maritime Consultative Organization, or IMCO, but the name was changed in 1982 to IMO). The IMO Convention entered into force in 1958 and the new Organization met for the first time the following year.

The purposes of the Organization, as summarised by Article 1(a) of the Convention, are “to provide machinery for cooperation among Governments in the field of governmental regulation and practices relating to technical matters of all kinds affecting shipping engaged in international trade; to encourage and facilitate the general adoption of the highest practicable standards in matters concerning maritime safety, efficiency of navigation and prevention and control of marine pollution from ships”. The Organization is also empowered to deal with administrative and legal matters related to these purposes.

IMO’s first task was to adopt a new version of the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), the most important of all treaties dealing with maritime safety. This was achieved in 1960 and IMO then turned its attention to such matters as the facilitation of international maritime traffic, load lines and the carriage of dangerous goods, while the system of measuring the tonnage of ships was revised.

Pollution Issues

Shipping – which transports about ninety per cent of global trade – is, statistically, the least environmentally damaging mode of transport, when its productive value is taken into consideration.

Although safety was and remains IMO’s most important responsibility, a new problem began to emerge: pollution. The growth in the amount of oil being transported by sea and in the size of oil tankers was of particular concern and the Torrey Canyon disaster of 1967, in which one hundred and twenty thousand tons of oil was spilled, demonstrated the scale of the problem.

During the next few years IMO introduced a series of measures designed to prevent tanker accidents and to minimise their consequences. It also tackled the environmental threat caused by routine operations such as the cleaning of oil cargo tanks and the disposal of engine room wastes; in tonnage terms a bigger menace than accidental pollution.

The most important of all these measures was the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, 1973, as modified by the Protocol of 1978. It covers not only accidental and operational oil pollution but also pollution by chemicals, goods in packaged form, sewage, garbage and air pollution.

IMO was also given the task of establishing a system for providing compensation to those who had suffered financially as a result of pollution. Two treaties were adopted, in 1969 and 1971, which enabled victims of oil pollution to obtain compensation much more simply and quickly than had been possible before. Both treaties were amended in 1992, and again in 2000, to increase the limits of compensation payable to victims of pollution. A number of other legal conventions have been developed since, most of which concern liability and compensation issues.

Legal Issues

IMO is primarily concerned with the safety of shipping and the prevention of marine pollution, but the Organization has also introduced regulations covering liability and compensation for damage, such as pollution, caused by ships. The Torrey Canyon disaster of 1967, which led to an intensification of IMO’s technical work in preventing pollution, was also the catalyst for work on liability and compensation. An ad hoc Legal Committee was established to deal with the legal issues raised by the world’s first major tanker disaster and the Committee soon became a permanent subsidiary organ of the IMO Council, meeting twice a year to deal with any legal issues raised at IMO.

The Legal Committee is empowered to deal with any legal matters within the scope of the Organization. The Committee consists of all Member States of IMO. It was established in 1967 as a subsidiary body to deal with legal questions which arose in the aftermath of the Torrey Canyon disaster. The Legal Committee is also empowered to perform any duties within its scope which may be assigned by or under any other international instrument and accepted by the Organization.

The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea covers some issues not regulated under IMO treaty instruments: for example, the jurisdictional power of the coastal State.

International shipping transports more than eighty per cent of global trade to peoples and communities all over the world. Shipping is the most efficient and cost-effective method of international transportation for most goods; it provides a dependable, low-cost means of transporting goods globally, facilitating commerce and helping to create prosperity among nations and peoples. The world relies on a safe, secure and efficient international shipping industry – and this is provided by the regulatory framework developed and maintained by IMO.

The Mercury 13

Who were the Mercury 13? Nikita Khrushchev saw Valentina Tereshkova’s spaceflight (1963) as a triumph for the Soviet Union. However, no more Soviet women would enter outer space for another two decades. It was not until 1982 that cosmonaut Svetlana Savitskaya became the second woman in outer space, and America would have to wait until the following year for Sally Ride to become the third woman in outer space. But the United States of America had, unofficially, planned in the 1960s to send women in outer space.

Twenty-five women, narrowed down to thirteen, participated in and passed in the 1960s the very same physical and psychological tests that determined the original American astronauts. These thirteen women – Jerrie Cobb, Bernice Steadman, Janey Hart, Jerri Truhill, Rhea Woltman, Sarah Ratley, Jan and Marion Dietrich, Myrtle Cagle, Irene Leverton, Gene Nora Jessen, Jean Hixson, and Wally Funk – passed the same tests as the Mercury 7.

Lovelace’s Woman in Space Program was a short-lived, privately-funded project testing women pilots for astronaut fitness in the early 1960s. Although nothing concrete resulted, the women who participated have since been recognized as trailblazers, whose ambitions to fly the newest and the fastest craft led them to be among the first American women to gain access to sophisticated aerospace medical tests.

William Randolph Lovelace II

William Randolph Lovelace II, a native New Mexican, was born in 1907. He graduated from Harvard Medical School in 1934. After residencies at Bellevue Hospital in New York and the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, he travelled to Europe during the 1930’s for further medical studies. He returned to the United States of America to volunteer as a Flight Surgeon and First Lieutenant in the Army Medical Corps Reserve.

Interested in problems faced by pilots flying higher and faster, in 1938, he transferred to the Aeromedical Field Laboratory at Wright Field in Dayton, Ohio to develop a high-altitude oxygen mask. Dr. Lovelace and his staff of researchers invented a unique oxygen mask that he personally tested in flights up to fifteen thousand feet. The first public announcement of this breakthrough was made in September of 1938.

On active duty with the Army Air Corps as a colonel during World War II, Lovelace used himself as a test subject in further experiments on the problems of high-altitude escape and parachuting. He returned to private practice after the war, and in 1947, founded the Lovelace Clinic in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Dr. Lovelace continued to conduct research, helping to improve aviation and aerospace medicine, and in 1958, NASA, the newly created space agency, asked him to be the chairman of its Special Advisory Committee on Life Sciences.

Dr. Lovelace then helped NASA draw up a profile of the perfect astronaut, based on years of medical testing experience of pilots. These guidelines were used to help select astronauts for the Gemini and Apollo programs. Lovelace believed that these guidelines showed that women were just as capable of space travel as men, and in 1960, he helped chose twenty-five female astronaut candidates, some of which were selected as the Mercury 13 the next year. The program was abruptly cancelled however, in September 1961.

In 1964, Lovelace was appointed NASA’s Director of Space Medicine. A year later, while Dr. Lovelace and his wife were flying in a private plane near Aspen, Colorado, their pilot became disoriented and flew into a mountainside, killing all aboard.

The Mercury 13

The Mercury 13 were thirteen American women who, as part of a privately funded program, underwent the same physiological screening tests as the astronauts selected by NASA on April 9, 1959 for Project Mercury. The term was coined in 1995 by Hollywood producer James Cross as a comparison to the Mercury Seven name given to the selected male astronauts; however, the Mercury 13 were not part of NASA’s astronaut program, never flew in space and never met as a group.

Despite the fact that several of the women had been employed as civilian test pilots, and many had considerably more flying time than the male astronaut candidates, the testing project was cancelled and it was never taken up as a NASA initiative.

At first, NASA thought that the best candidates would most likely be pilots, submarine crews or members of expeditions to the Arctic or Antarctica, or people with experience in parachuting, climbing, deep-sea diving or scuba diving. NASA soon realised that many people were likely to apply, and that processing all the applications would be expensive and take time. President Eisenhower believed that military test pilots would make the best astronauts and, as a result, the selection requirements were altered, greatly simplifying the selection procedure.

So it was decided: all astronauts must be graduates of military jet test pilot schools and have engineering degrees. The criteria were relaxed as later groups of astronauts were recruited, but the choice of military test pilots as the first astronauts had set the trend.

The problem was that, in the early 1960s, women were barred from military flight training. Therefore, no American women could become military jet pilots and therefore gain the test piloting experience necessary. In fact, women had been excluded from military flying since the end of the Women’s Airforce Service Pilots in 1944.

It was only in 1973 that the US Navy allowed women into flight training. The US Army soon followed and trained female helicopter pilots, with the US Air Force catching up in 1976. The US Air Force had accepted women into its Test Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base in 1974, but only as engineers. It would be 14 more years until the first female test pilot graduated there. In 1989, only a year later, Major Eileen Collins was the second female pilot to graduate from the Test Pilot School. She joined NASA in 1990, and was the first female Shuttle pilot and the first female Shuttle commander in 1999.

Members of the First Lady Astronaut Trainees (FLATs, also known as the Mercury 13), these seven women who once aspired to fly into space stand outside Launch Pad 39B near the Space Shuttle Discovery in the NASA photograph from 1995 we used for our article on Space Legal Issues. Visiting the John F. Kennedy Space Center as invited guests of STS-63 Pilot Eileen Collins, the first female shuttle pilot and later the first female shuttle commander, are (from left): Gene Nora Jessen, Wally Funk, Jerrie Cobb, Jerri Truhill, Sarah Ratley, Myrtle Cagle and Bernice Steadman.